US Report: OEMs say Microsoft concessions don't amount to much

Microsoft officials said yesterday the company will hold off from releasing Windows 98 code to its hardware partners until Monday while it continues to negotiate with the U.S.

Microsoft officials said yesterday the company will hold off from releasing Windows 98 code to its hardware partners until Monday while it continues to negotiate with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and state attorneys general.

But Microsoft's hardware partners, or OEMs, say they didn't expect Windows 98 code until Monday at the earliest-even without Microsoft "concessions." Microsoft's internal delivery target to OEMs of May 15 has been just that-a target-say testers.

Microsoft officials said the company has been in negotiations with the DoJ for a week. Numerous sources close to the Microsoft/DoJ/state case had expected a dozen or more state attorneys general and the DoJ to launch new antitrust-related cases against Microsoft today. Now it appears that neither the states nor the DoJ will bring any new legal action today, and possibly not at all, depending on the outcome of ongoing negotiations with Microsoft on a number of fronts.

As of yesterday, Microsoft will continue to solicit beta tester feedback on its private "Memphis" beta site as to whether RC-5 (Release Candidate 5) is ready to ship, according to beta testers. Microsoft posted RC-5 to its Web site for testers to download on May 8. There is no mention on the private site of availability of a final Windows 98 candidate, testers said.

While Microsoft has said it will not make any major changes to the Windows 98 code at this point, it has yet to cut the final "gold" CD, testers said. Once Microsoft cuts the gold CD, it still needs to deliver the CDs to its partners. In addition, the company needs to create OPKs (OEM Preinstallation Kits), with which hardware vendors will be able to preload the operating system on new machines. It is unclear when Microsoft intends to deliver OPKs to its hardware partners.

Microsoft says it is still planning to begin shipping Windows 98 on June 25 as originally planned.

Company officials did not return calls requesting comment by press time.

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